2015 In Review

When 2015 began, I was certain it was going to be “my year”. The year started with the following goals in December 2014:

+ Dance
+ Climb up to V5
+ Better my language skills
+ Make new friends
+ Expand my professional network
+ Save money to travel
+ Think about grad school

2015 Resolutions

Having never been one to make New Year’s resolutions (most likely out of fear that I would lose interest and end up never completing one of them), I had quite the feat ahead of me. Much to my delight after making the above goals, 2015 has been an amazing journey. From driving every second or third weekend from Kelowna to Vancouver, crushing in the Boulderfields, Vancouver, and South Africa, beginning new relationships, and excelling at and quitting my job to move to the big city, this year has indeed been “my year”.

To my surprise, by venturing towards the above goals, 2015 taught me five key learnings*:

5 Key Learnings:

1. Determination and intention is essential to growth
2. It’s about the process, not the outcome
3. Life is too short to not do the things that make you feel alive
4. Communication is key
5. Failure is inevitable, but not permanent

*“Learnings” is defined not only as a lesson learned and completed discovery, but an act of continuous learning and investigation.

1. Determination and intention is essential to growth

In 2014, I went through some major transitions and growths in dance and decided that in order to take my dancing to the next level, I needed to seek out ways to improve. So in January 2015, I decided to go to Vancouver from Kelowna at least once a month to social dance, take classes, and attempt to become part of the Vancouver dance community.

Throughout the months of specific dedication and intention for improvement, I met a number of amazing people who have taught me how to be a better follow, lead, and person. I can’t help but come to the conclusion that, had I not been so determined to grow in dance and were I not at the point of frustration with plateauing, I might not have grown as much as I did in the few months that I consistently went to Vancouver to dance on the weekends. It was clear that determination and intention is essential to growth.

Dancey Ballroom, DaudiX Photography
Dancey Ballroom, DaudiX Photography

2. It’s about the process, not the outcome

I have never crushed so hard and consistently as I did in 2015. The climbing season started early for me in the spring at the Boulderfields and each weekend that I wasn’t travelling to Vancouver, I was out in the fields, hitting up my next project. By June 2015, I had met my December 2014 goal of sending Autopilot, my first V5, and soon after, Ribrageous (V5).

Despite these sends, the Rock the Blocs Bouldering Festival in June stands out as a significant day in 2015. Never before had I experienced how determined to a fault I can be. I pushed myself so hard to do so well that there were a solid few hours that climbing was not enjoyable to me. It was clear that my mental state affected my performance.

I once thought that the attainment of an outcome had a direct correlation with satisfaction. Although I won the Women’s Intermediate Category (V2-V4), the emotional attachment and frustration I felt when I didn’t send projects I knew I could physically send began the exploration of what climbing means to me and why I love it so much. I realized that day, how much more in love I am with the process, rather than the obsession with the outcome of a project.

This realization re-surfaced in August when I spent three weeks in South Africa on a climbing trip. My goal was to send some solid V6s. Despite this, I spent the first two weeks of climbing trying to catch up with a climber who crushes a few grades above me. After days of frustration when I couldn’t flash V8s, I was gently reminded to evaluate why I really love climbing.

By the end of my time, I had sent 22 lines, worked on 12 projects. My best sends were Un Picon D’Herbs (7c/V9) and Juste avan de Partir (6C+/V5/6). While I take pride in my sends, as most climbers do, I am most proud of my determination and efforts on the projects and tough sends after numerous attempts, further reminding me that it’s more about the process than the outcome.

Autopilot (V5), Boulderfields

3. Life is too short to not do the things that make you feel alive

One of the biggest times of reflection this year was my time in South Africa. Overall, I felt that I was plateauing in many aspects of my life – dance, work, home, climbing. It was time for a change.

In August, I decided to quit my job and move to Vancouver.

There are many things that led to my decision, but prominently: Life is too short to not do the things in life that make you feel alive. Dance, climbing, and making a difference in other’s lives are some of those things that make me feel alive.

On August 24, I wrote: “May this experience strengthen me, as I need to be strengthened in ways that make me feel alive and worth something. As I spend my final hours [in South Africa], I think about what I truly enjoy in life and what is important to me, who is important to me. How fortunate am I.”

I was nervous and excited at the time, but there was (and still is) a resounding peace in the decision to follow my heart and be true to myself. Despite the lack of a secure plan or funds, I have learnt more in the last six months about myself, the world, and my place in it than I have in many years; an opportunity that I am glad not to have turned my back on due to fear of change and the unknown.

4. Communication is key

Effective communication is essential in relationships. My employment had everything to do with relationship building, engagement, and communication. It was a stark realization that when trying to engage a group of stakeholders (or anyone), one needs to examine how to best communicate with each person in order to create lasting relationships. Communication, therefore, is not only about getting one’s point across, but most importantly, involves actively listening.

Most recently, this lesson has been apparent not only in my new employment search and networking, but also in my new relationship. In this new relationship, effective communication is the foundation of everything and one thing we share that I am incredibly grateful for. The ability to be honest with oneself and others, be willing to examine one’s biased perspective of life, and take responsibility for one’s actions or inaction all require humble communication. This year marked continued growth in the art of communication and I look forward to refining my skills in the coming year.

5. Failure is inevitable, but not permanent

I have never not been employed or in school. For the last three months in 2015, I was unemployed. Not having somewhere to be, somewhere to go, or someone to report to is a new personal phenomenon. The entire discouraging process of applying for hundreds of jobs, getting few (if any) callbacks, not moving forward in the interview process, and starting the entire process over again has been immensely depressing, yet educational.

The last three months of 2015 have helped me to recognize that my productivity does not equal my worth. This is a difficult lesson to learn in a capitalist society that often equates our worth and our identity with our employment. This year has also challenged me to think in limitless terms. Moving from a non-profit to for-profit environment has helped me think about efficiency and productivity and possibilities in life. This also includes failure.

Having perfectionist tendencies, failure is often not an option for me (probably another reason why embracing the process of climbing and detaching myself from achievement is one of the most difficult learnings of this year for me). But from the employment search process and from reading a number of notable books this year, a common theme has surfaced: failure is inevitable, but not permanent. While this is a difficult lesson to learn, a common thread throughout 2015 remained: these periods of uncertainty never last forever.

2016 Outlook

It is with this key learning, and the ones preceding, that I look to 2016 with bright eyes and hopeful excitement, ready to take on whatever lays ahead with determination to grow, delight in the journey, enlightened aliveness, effective communication, and an embracement of failure. 2016, bring it on!

Rocklands, South Africa

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Lauren Hjalmarson says:

    Hi Kay!

    Thanks for sharing your learnings! I enjoyed reading this post, and I can definitely relate to the sensation of being in unknown territory as an unemployed person. I think you described that feeling really well.
    I would share my learnings from 2015, but I think I’ll have to reflect a bit more before I know what they are…
    Well, come to think of it… one of them is definitely this: you can spend all of your time trying to fix the potholes before your proverbial vehicle moves further down the bumpy road of life, or you can bump along, laugh about it, enjoy the ride, and move a good deal faster than you would if you chose the first option. I’m trying to choose the second!
    I love you, miss you, and look forward to reading about more of your learnings in the future. All the best to you, Kay, my friend! :)


  2. Rachelle says:

    Wow !
    I really enjoyed your first article. The way you analyze every objective is incredible. I think you’re right when you say we have to do what we like otherwise you just feel empty ; like a wonderful book cover but with a suck story. I hope every lesson you learned from 2015 will help you to achieve your 2016 goals.
    Happy new year Kay !


  3. Chris says:

    What a great read! So many awesome take-aways. Thanks for sharing your journey. Looking forward to hearing more. :-)


  4. Quentin says:

    What a great read Kay! The points you mentioned are so applicable in everyday life – even the small things!
    Hope 2016 will be “your year” again!
    Will you come to the boulder fest this year? It will be good to see you there!
    All the best!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s